May 2009

Astrometry Bags a ‘Cold Jupiter’

May 29, 2009

We’re now up to 347 detected exoplanets around 293 stars. The latest find turns out to be intriguing on several counts. VB 10 is a red dwarf about 20 light years away in the constellation Aquila. Its newly detected planet is a gas giant with a mass six times that of Jupiter, a ‘cold Jupiter’ […]

Read the full article →

Radio Supernovae and the ATA

May 28, 2009

We think of the Allen Telescope Array, currently comprising only 42 of the 350 radio dishes planned, as a SETI instrument, capable of digging faint signals out of a wider field of stars than ever before. But the ATA is also engaged in an astrophysical survey of the sky at radio wavelengths, one that will […]

Read the full article →

Maps of an Alien Earth

May 27, 2009

Anyone who thought the Deep Impact mission was over when the spacecraft drove an impactor into comet Tempel 1 some four years ago has been given a lesson in the strategy of extended missions. Now heading for a flyby of comet Hartley 2 (late in 2010), Deep Impact is also doing yeoman work in the […]

Read the full article →

Growing the Interstellar Probe

May 26, 2009

Centauri Dreams reader Brian Koester passed along a link to a provocative video last month that spurs thoughts about the nature of interstellar probes. The video is a TED talk delivered by Paul Rothemund in 2007. For those not familiar with it, TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, a conference that began in 1984 and […]

Read the full article →

Creating Stars in the Laboratory

May 25, 2009

The 192 lasers of the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California can focus 500 trillion watts of power onto a pellet of hydrogen fuel the size of a pencil eraser. With full-scale experiments slated to begin soon, we’ll learn much about the feasibility of nuclear fusion on Earth, hoping to extract […]

Read the full article →

A Dark Matter Collapse near M87?

May 22, 2009

When we talk about the diameter of the Milky Way, it’s usual to cite a figure of about 100,000 light years. But the much more diffuse halo of stars surrounding the galaxy actually extends almost twice as far. You would expect to find more or less the same situation in other galaxies, but new observations […]

Read the full article →

Life’s Persistence through the Bombardment

May 21, 2009

None of us would have wanted to be around during the Late Heavy Bombardment, that frenetic bashing of our planet as the young Solar System worked out its debris problems between 4.1 and 3.8 billion years ago. The Hadean period was a time when enormous asteroids pummeled our world over a span lasting as long […]

Read the full article →

The Hunt for Centauri Planets

May 20, 2009

Finding Earth-like planets around any star would be a stunning feat, and either Kepler or CoRoT may deliver such news before too long. But how much more exciting still if we find a planet like this around a star as close as Centauri B? After all, the Centauri stars are our closest stellar neighbors, close […]

Read the full article →

Building the Interstellar Message

May 19, 2009

I’m glad to see the phrasing of the key question used in the SETI Institute’s ‘Earth Speaks’ project. Assuming we one day detect a signal from an extraterrestrial civilization, the Institute asks, ‘Should we reply, and if so, what should we say?’ Given the apparent ease with which broadcasts to the stars have been made […]

Read the full article →

Tau Zero Update

May 18, 2009

Tau Zero’s Kelvin Long seems to be everywhere these days, his most recent publication being a summary of the interstellar sessions at the UK Space Conference, held in early April. You can read that one here, where you’ll discover that Long also provides a thorough backgrounder on the Tau Zero Foundation, its goals and vision […]

Read the full article →